Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On High Stakes Testing The 20% Of Children With Mental Illness....

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, twenty percent of children (actually 21%) have a mental illness of one sort or another. 20% is a big number! Illnesses like post traumatic stress syndrome, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia are serious conditions that cause functional impairments and cognitive deficits.

Question: Is it morally acceptable to push children through curricula and assessments centered around data driven instruction and high stakes standardized tests?

I sat through a discussion yesterday at the Indianapolis Marion County public library on standardized testing.

Derek Redelman, one of the discussion participants and a pusher of high stakes standardized testing for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce had nothing to say on this issue.

To her credit Dr. Dena Cushenberry Superintendent of Warren Twp. Schools, mentioned we have to be "concerned"and "mindful" but insisted that students would make their parents happy with good test scores.

I had a discussion with Dr. Cushenberry later in the lobby about emergent curriculum as a way of giving children a voice in non-consensual learning experiences that now amount to test prep and she had no idea what I was talking about.

More on this subject soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

On Warping of Curricula and Immorality of Testing

Here is the trailer to "Standardized."

A dynamic discussion with members of Parent Power, Black and Latino Policy Institute and Education Community Action Team on high stakes standardized testing.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"I'll just be the girl who got a three, or the girl who got a one, or the girl who threw up because she was so nervous."

More evidence on negative affects to physiological and psycho-emotional development caused by standardized high stakes testing. In their own words, elementary students Claire and Liam address the Orange County School Board:

"We all have to do the same thing at the same time. The kids all learn like that because of tests." "I wanted you to see that I'm a 3rd grader and me and other kids who are going to take the scary tests for the first time in the Spring, and I won't be Claire to them, I'll just be the girl who got a three, or the girl who got a one, or the girl who threw up because she was so nervous. You guys always teach us about standing up to others. Now it's time for you to stand up to the bullies who are using these tests in the wrong way. Can't you do something?"

Liam addresses his school board on the standard error of measurement: "When I took the 3rd grade FCAT, I was a wreck. The pressure on our teacher and our school's success riding on our backs was crazy. Everybody pressuring us to be great. If we weren't great, everybody knew, we would have to repeat classes and the whole 3rd grade. Ugh! I didn't do well. My parents tried to make me feel better by telling me that tests are what happens when you don't get enough time to get to know somebody. But that didn't make any sense because 'my teacher' already knew me real well." "Why couldn't people just ask her about my poems, my website, my science fair project, my speeches, my videos, the portfolio? Why isn't that my score? I don't understand why you guys even care about a number from a test on one day when my stomach felt like I ate acid." "Right now, everyone is just their FCAT scores."

 Children are not homogeneously constructed. Why do we educate them so?
Claire and Liam bring up some pretty important issues here: Coercion of children. Toxic stress inducing experiences. Forced participation into curricula that ignore children's interests, strengths and unique cognitive capacities based on a pedagogy of radical behaviorism.

The test pushers don't care if children suffer anxiety or toxic stress before, during or after the tests. The test pushers don't care if children's unique cognitive gifts are ignored by their teacher. Test pushers don't care if learning is reduced to banal test training experiences. Make no mistake, the tests are designed to confuse and trick children. Educators are forced to train children to answer ambiguously worded selected response standardized test questions.

Claire who is unaccustomed to bullying asks the question to the Orange County School Board, "Can you do something?"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Before They Were "Hoosiers for Quality Education" They Went By Another Name.....

H4QE is funded by a lot of deep pockets outside of Indiana.
If this group is advocating for quality education for all Hoosier school children, why have they supported candidates and policies responsible for pressuring teachers and administrators to teach to the test and cut funding to public schools where approximately 90% of children in Indiana are educated and why did they feature the voucherization of public schools under another PAC name? Doug Martin has some insight on this group here. I smell big money funding this PAC from out of state corporate donors in Kansas, Arkansas and Michigan.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Who's Who Responsible For The Narrowed, Standardization of K-12 Curricula In The U.S.

The Koch's, Bill Gates and Eli Broad are the most powerful funders of  education deform in the World. In the U.S. Arne Duncan is their tool.
There is a fourth wheel of government accountable to no one. It is the big, big monied elites. They control  significant numbers of politicians. They influence legislative initiatives. They control the mass media and public information. The Billionaires Club have succeeded in weaving their influence  (Duncan is a former Broad Foundation board member) into your children's public school experience. Corporate education deformers say they want your child to be college and career ready with a rigorous education loaded with grit. What they really intend to do is standardize children's curriculum and learning experience so countless numbers of lucrative high stakes standardized tests can be administered resulting in the successful preparation of the next generation of compliant worker bees. I have four of the top oligarchs in this image. If you judge teachers and schools based on children's high stakes standardized test scores, curriculum will be narrowed to what's covered on the test and teachers will teach to the test! More to come.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Letter To The Indiana State Board of Education

Control and perpetuation of punitive high stakes standardized testing policies and chair of the ISBOE at stake. 

Dear Indiana State Board of Education,

The roots of cognitive science, the science of mind, brain and learning, have been in existence since Socrates, Plato and Aristotle spoke and wrote on such matters over 2500 years ago. 

Research in cognitive science and cognitive neuro-science conducted over the past 60 years, reveal Socrates, Plato and Aristotle had it wrong when they described the mind as a blank slate and disconnected from the body. 

We know today, mind, body and spirit are all connected. 

It is ironic, 2500 years later, the ISBOE continues to adopt positions and mandate policies that perpetuate a conception of the mind that is as antiquated as those of the ancient Greek philosophers.

The human mind, particularly children's minds are complex organic entities, uniquely constructed with innate capacities and competencies. 

Policies that force educators to center curriculum around high stakes standardized assessments, whereby tying teachers hands to provide curriculum centered around children, is what the ISBOE has done. 

The only learning theory from this governance body that I do see supported through your policies, are the work of B.F. Skinner and Ivan Pavlov. I am talking about radical behaviorism. 

Over the past 8 years, Indiana citizens have observed the intensification of high stakes standardized tests put upon unsuspecting elementary aged children throughout Indiana public schools: http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/tag/iread-3/

Data driven, selected response assessments are based on behavioral analysis. How many selected response questions can a child correctly answer? The outcome of this number has immense consequences. Thus, the ISBOE has ensured that schools, administrators and teachers will structure curriculum and learning experience around tests. Children are operantly conditioned to answer selected response tests utilizing rewards and punishments. If children do not answer enough questions correctly, schools, principals and teachers will be punished. These are behaviorist learning principals. This is operant conditioning.

High stakes standardized tests come at a steep cost. 

I quote Jane Healy, Ph.D: "Driving the cold spikes of inappropriate pressure into the malleable heart of a child's learning may seriously distort the unfolding of both intellect and motivation. This self-serving intellectual assault, increasingly condemned by teachers who see it's warped product,...In a society that reveres the speed with which a product can be extruded from the system, that has become impatient with the essential process of childhood, that measures children's mental growth like steak on a butchers scales, and that deifies test scores instead of taking the time to respect developmental needs, EVERY CHILD IS POTENTIALLY IN JEOPARDY." 

The beneficiaries of high stakes standardized testing? 26 million for McGraw Hill, millions to corporate supported charter schools, Pearson and other ancillary ed tech companies selling high stakes standardized scripted curricula and test prep materials.

Children are outside the decision making process central to the learning experiences they are forced to participate in. 

Looking at the big picture, mandated high stakes standardized testing has been a disaster for Indiana children and society. 

There are two kinds of learning in this world. The first is to educate children so their intellectual gifts, innate capacities and instinctual learning curiosities endowed to them by the Forces of the Universe will unfold naturally.

The second form of learning experience can be seen in authoritarian nations where the state imprints upon the minds of children, via operant conditioning, what the state values.

What kind of state are we?

I can tell you with all honesty, a significant number of the 1.3 million Hoosiers who voted for Glenda Ritz, voted for her so the policy morass she inherited from Tony Bennett would be corrected. We witnessed during the Bennett-Daniels era, the narrowing of children's learning experiences, defunding of public schools, humiliation of children and communities, and degradation of educators based on their policies.

What Indiana citizens have observed during Supt. Ritz's time as Chair of the ISBOE is a pattern of unwillingness by it's members to work with her and unnecessary initiatives and shadow agencies created by Governor Pence at tax payer expense that I can only describe as suspect. 

Indiana Citizens will be watching to see what maneuverings take place at tomorrow's July 9th ISBOE meeting. 

My hope is that Superintendent Ritz will be allowed to do the job of restoring stability in our schools that voters elected her to do.

Clyde Gaw
Network for Public Education

Write or contact your ISBOE members, Governor and legislators here:

Contact Governor Pence:  http://in.gov/gov/2333.htm

Contact the SBOE members: http://www.in.gov/sboe/2527.htm and http://www.in.gov/sboe/2423.htm 

Contact your state legislators: https://capwiz.com/nea/in/home/

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Children's Cognitive Development Impaired By Corporate Oligarchs!

Molding Minds For Tomorrow!
If we could paint a picture of the travesty taking place in American Public Education today, it might look like the above picture. It is Spring Time in America and high stakes standardized tests are on the school menu for millions of American children. There are many reasons to revolt against these tests. The most heinous fact is these tests dictate learning experience.  In the long term, children learn nothing more than to be compliant, worker bees.

Think of it. Children are biologically hard wired to be active, playful, imaginative, inquisitive learners.
However due to high stakes testing in thousands of schools across the U.S., children are forced to sit at their seats for 6 hours a day and mimic the work of desk clerks. Children have no voice in the learning experiences they engage in and are forced to participate in data-driven radical behaviorist learning activities, which they are told, will prepare them for careers and college. This factory model of education has nothing to do with learning. It has everything to do with controlling the minds of future citizens.

If an omnipotent force were to engineer a future society that would be smart enough to do the grunt work of a national economy but incapable of figuring out why their interests, innate gifts and talents were not optimally developed during the formative stages of their education, then mandating high stakes testing and narrowing of children's educational experiences would be the way to do just such a social engineering job.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On the Rigor of the Common Core and Fidelity of High Stakes Testing

"What the wisest parents want for their children, that must we want for all children."
J. Dewey

Touting the CCSS version of standardized education with lots of rigor and fidelity as a cure-all for what ails American public education is a charade!  More and better standardized educational experience (rigor) that will be controlled and measured with high stakes standardized test scores (fidelity)? Really? Standardized educational experience and in particular, CCSS will do nothing to improve children's learning experiences in American classrooms. The elements for improving educational experience for all American children are still not in place: Personal time and attention from teachers through smaller class sizes, stable home lives, reduction of food insecurity, regular experiences in fine arts education and opportunities for student's self determination of educational experience. These factors are critical for improving American education, but alas...what children got instead after the Wall Street Crash of 2007-2008? More standardized testing. The idea that you can improve children's educational experiences by ignoring their physiological and psycho-emotional needs and imposing authoritarian, no excuses, get tough policies on them and their teachers is anathema to improving the human condition and human potential. What you will end up with is a mono-culture that perpetuates the standardization of the human mind. What children will learn is that the CCSS are nothing more than more of the same old, same old non-consensual learning experience driven by radical behaviorism. Children will remain outside the decision making processes central to the learning experiences they must participate in, and teachers will be forced to teach to the test. 

The end game is to de-professionalize teaching, hire pseudo-teachers who don't need living wages, pensions or other benefits and educate children through cheaper, technology driven screen-based interface whose assessments mimic standardized test questions.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mike Pence Has No Problem Slashing Indiana Public Education Funding Again

How much state funding will Indiana public schools and other public entities lose if Mike Pence's corporate property tax cut initiative is ok'd by the Republican dominated Indiana General Assembly? Plenty! Who does Mike Pence represent? It certainly isn't the Indiana middle class whose 1.1 million children attend Indiana public schools. Only an agent of the opulent minority would consider a funding cut of this magnitude to cash strapped Indiana pubic schools, libraries and municipal government services.

The promise of jobs in exchange for tax cuts has done irreparable harm to the middle class and to municipal institutions like public schools and libraries. Time for the Indiana General Assembly to reconsider this governor's plans to further decimate the middle class? Call or write your state legislator here: Indiana General Assembly